A huge jump in membership and heavy participation in club endeavors has brought Oakdale High School’s “S” Club to the forefront by shining a spotlight on volunteerism and service activities for students.
“At 100-plus active members, this year’s S Club is not only one of the largest clubs on the OHS campus with the highest consistent weekly meeting attendance, but is also one of the most active,” said OHS senior and club president Janki Mistry.
The S Club is a service club on campus that engages in community service and also helps out with events and activities at OHS. S Club is sponsored by Soroptimist but it is fully a student-run club. Its on campus advisor is librarian Kara Martinez and it also has an advisor through Oakdale’s Soroptimist Club.
Mistry, who has been involved with S Club all four years at OHS, said that during her freshman and sophomore years, S Club had about 30 members but last year membership fell dramatically with only about 15 members, give or take a few, who were sporadically active. However, at the end of last school year, a new leadership board was selected and brought a renewed vigor.
The six-student board met over the summer and got active in managing the S Club’s Facebook page and did a lot of “friend” requests to OHS students. Mistry noted that as long as the board is organized, communicates, and shares the work it makes them strong.
During the high school’s Club Rush, where clubs set up booths to recruit students early on in the school year, S Club offered candy at their booth and T-shirts for sale – things that attract attention – and they hoped to get a good number of names on the sign up sheets.
“A lot of people didn’t know what S Club was, what we did,” Mistry said.
The members educated other students during Club Rush, put posters around campus and highly publicized their first meeting. Mistry said that around 140 interested students signed up.
“We were hoping to increase the numbers to 30 or 40 people,” Mistry recalled. “Then after Club Rush, we thought maybe 50 or 60.”
The number of people who signed up was a lot more than anticipated, but Mistry’s expectations remained more conservative at first because, she said, not everyone who signs up shows up to the meeting. But, show up they did.
“Everyone is really involved,” advisor Martinez reported. “We have a lot of really good members. They’re excited to help out.”
She added that Mistry has been a big part of the club’s publicity, frequently posting information on Facebook so people know what’s happening. Mistry added that getting her peers informed with details has been the key.
“We require everyone to do two hours of service per month and a lot of our events go longer than two hours,” she said. “In the first month we did the Stanislaus River cleanup, and the community cleanup Love Oakdale. Those were three of the Saturdays in September. We had people drop in at a variety of times.”
She added that the service hours really weren’t enforced much in the past, and while they’re not punitive about students who don’t serve their hours, it’s expected.
“In October I knew we’d need a lot more help (with projects),” she said. “So I told some members if they didn’t make their two hours in September, then they could do four hours in October to make that up.”
Martinez said that the school counselors have also helped with S Club’s membership growth in that they promote the importance of being involved in clubs and say having volunteer work and community service looks good on college applications.
Just since school has started, the S Club members have been twice recognized by Mayor Pat Paul at Oakdale City Council meetings for their involvement with community events. Mistry said getting the recognition was “cool.”
“Kids feel good about helping out,” Martinez added. “They can look back and say they helped do that.”
Some of the recent events S-club members have helped with were the Community Block Party, Trick or Treating for Cans, the Climber’s Festival, the Oak Valley Hospital Harvest Festival, school volleyball concessions, and others. It seems that word is spreading that when people need help with an event, they know to call S Club.
“We have a lot of members willing to work now,” Mistry said.
Upcoming November events include helping organize cans into meal boxes for families for Spirit of Oakdale, an art festival, and assembling goody bags for troops.
S club meets the first and third Thursdays of every month in the OHS library and are willing to accept new members all year long. Members are now bringing in their friends who want to sign up, Martinez said, adding that they are happy to have as many students as possible who want to help.